Rogue Washington Doctor Intent on Medically Kidnapping Child – Parents Forced to get Restraining Order Against Doctor
Physician will stop at nothing to separate a mother from her child – Leads a family to get a restraining order
Commentary by Allie Parker
Health Impact News
What can a family do when they become the target of a rogue physician who has no oversight and cannot be held accountable for their actions? You file for a restraining order.
This may seem like an extreme act, especially against a physician, the ones who are supposed to be dedicated to helping others. Unfortunately, recent national media investigations and research have produced several stories involving hundreds of families who were targeted by physicians in a sub-specialty known as Child Abuse Pediatrics (CAP).
The laws vary from state to state, but they all provide immunity for these physicians and sometimes for anyone who is involved in the investigation of suspected child abuse, whether the actions are malice or even illegal.
It has become more evident this lack of accountability has caused some physicians in the field of “diagnosing” child abuse to lose sight of reality and become outright devious toward a family or individual they suspect as being a child abuser, even when there is no evidence to support their theory.
One form of child abuse on the rise is medical child abuse, formerly Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. In this type of abuse, the abuser falsifies symptoms or deliberately makes a child sick in order to get unnecessary and sometimes life threatening medical treatment.
A lot of the recent cases being diagnosed and investigated as medical child abuse have more evidence against the accusation than in support of it. This evidence consists of medical records and reports by the treating physicians and specialists, nurses and other family members who have either witnessed the claims made by the parent or caretaker, or have medical evidence that supports the history given by the parent or caretaker.
Unfortunately, once a CAP makes any accusation of abuse, the opinions of other doctors are usually disregarded despite having more training in the medical conditions and diseases responsible for a child’s injury or illness.
It has now come to a point where an accusing physician does not need the additional training required to become board certified in Child Abuse Pediatrics that allows such a dominant opinion over other physicians and specialists.
By simply claiming to have “experience” and “expertise” qualifies them to make abuse accusations with such certainty and credibility, which leads to a child being removed from their family.
Doctor Lies About her Credentials and Experience Under Oath
In a recent story by Mike Hixenbaugh with NBC News and Taylor Mirfendereski with KING5, the Carter family, of Tacoma, Washington, was blindsided when a doctor accused Megan Carter, a mother of two children, of medical child abuse.
In the doctor’s report, according to NCB News and KING5,
“Ellie Carter is a victim of medical child abuse. This is life threatening, and she is at imminent risk if her mother is involved in her care.”
The doctor, who is considered the state’s “pre-eminent expert in identifying subtle signs of child abuse,” made several false and misleading statements to the family, and the court, about her medical background and training.
Elizabeth Woods, the pediatrician who made the accusation, was hired by Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, late 2017, to be the medical director of the hospital’s child abuse intervention team. Previous to this, her curriculum vitae (CV) claims she spent over ten years in the Army.
It was this time in the Army where, according to NBC and KING5,
“Woods testified in Carter’s case that she became an expert through firsthand experience.”
The reporters reviewed court records and found not only did Woods lack the medical training for assessing potential abuse, she testified under oath,
“The training just started about three years ago.”
This was a false statement made under oath. The training to become board certified in child abuse pediatrics began in 2009. According to Woods’ CV, she was still in medical school in at that time.
Woods’ false and misleading testimony didn’t stop with her qualifications. NBC and KING5 report Woods’ testimony as stating,
“There are approximately 250 of us nationwide that function as child abuse consultants and a very small minority of those have received training.”
But, the reporters found there are more than 375 child abuse pediatricians certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in the U.S., and at least three physicians in Washington State have met the qualifications to become board certified.
Woods is not one of them.
The story also reports four cases reviewed by the reporters where CPS took children from parents in which Woods misstated key facts, and there were contradictory opinions from other medical experts who said they saw no evidence of abuse.
Despite these other medical expert opinions and Woods’ lack of training and board certification, CPS and law enforcement in Washington continue to allow Woods’ incredible influence over their decisions to remove children from their homes and pursue criminal charges.
Dr. Niran Al-Agba, a pediatrician in Washington, and one of the contradictory opinions in one of the cases, is quoted as saying,
“That’s what bothers me so much about this whole case is that they wrote they took her opinion because she has extensive training. Where’s the extensive training? I’m still dumbfounded.”
She isn’t the only one dumbfounded.
The Carters continued to wonder how and why their lives were sent into a nightmare by the claims of one doctor. But the claims of abuse were not the only things Woods did against this family; they were was just the beginning.
Difficult Premature Birth Leads to Medical Intervention
Ellie Carter was in and out of Mary Bridge since birth when she was born severely premature at 24 weeks. This resulted in Ellie having developmental delays and chronic health problems, which include serious breathing and digestive difficulties, all confirmed by medical doctors at Mary Bridge by way of medical records.
After four years of treatment by doctors at Mary Bridge, it wasn’t until around five months after Woods started as director of the child protection team that any concerns ever arose regarding the care and treatment she was receiving from her mother, a former nurse and stay-at-home-mom.
Woods started at Mary Bridge around November 2017. In the spring of 2018, CPS first entered the Carters’ lives when they showed up at Ellie’s hospital room, where she was being hospitalized for an infection, and told Ms. Carter concerns have been raised about her ability to continue caring for her daughter. Weeks passed and nothing ever came of this initial report.
By early May, 2018, Ellie was still being hospitalized while her body continued to fight the infection. It was at this time Woods requested to speak with Mrs. Carter to inform her she was no longer allowed to be alone with her daughter due to:
“Unresolved concerns about Ellie’s medical care, and a nurse or other hospital, medical staff would supervise her at all times, and the room would be monitored by video.”
The supervision and video surveillance went on for another six weeks while Ellie continued to be hospitalized. She was starting to show signs of recovery when social workers showed up again wanting to speak with Mr. and Mrs. Carter privately.
The Carters were taken to another room where two police officers were waiting to escort Mrs. Carter out of the hospital.
Unbeknownst to the Carters, Woods had contacted CPS again, claiming Ellie was,
“A confirmed victim of medical child abuse,” reports NBC and KING5.
The reporters go on to explain that in the message Woods gave to the authorities she had video evidence of Mrs. Carter tampering with her daughter’s medicine, yet no one explained this to the parents at that time.
This accusation led a judge to grant CPS request to place Ellie and her older brother into protective custody. The court order stated Mrs. Carter would not be allowed to live in the same home as her children and could not be around them unless she was supervised.
After Ellie was finally discharged, the family continued to cooperate with the court order.
Unfortunately, Woods wasn’t satisfied with the court order prompting her to write CPS officials and the prosecutor assigned to the case, recommending them to restrict Mrs. Carter’s contact with her children even more. Woods’ recommendation was to not allow Mrs. Carter any contact with her children, but the authorities refused.
According to NBC and KING5, Woods wrote,
“My request was for a change in supervision to a no contact order which I was informed could not be granted.”
Woods, intent on keeping the family separated based on her opinion alone, with no other physician or hospital staff that knew the family and treated Ellie for the previous 4 years, now set her focus on Mr. Carter by trying to get him to stop contact with his wife.
Woods’ plan for achieving her new goal was by using the alleged video evidence again in the hope Mr. Carter would turn on his wife.
According to the news story, Woods contacted Mr. Carter directly while Ellie was still in the hospital claiming she had video proof of his wife committing a crime, but she wouldn’t elaborate on these accusations, nor would she show him the alleged video evidence.
Finally, Woods told Mr. Carter the hospital would not discharge Ellie into his care unless he obtained a restraining order against his wife. This would accomplish Woods’ goal of Mrs. Carter having no contact with her children.
Woods, without having any of this alleged video evidence, continued to try to manipulate Mr. Carter by telling him the court order obtained by CPS wasn’t good enough and his wife was dangerous.
Mr. Carter recalled, along with notes Woods had written regarding this conversation, he was told by Woods,
“Even while supervised, Carter could hurt Ellie with a doctored glass of water or piece of candy.”
Reporters found other cases where Woods made accusations and recommendations that went beyond her role as a doctor.
In one case she claimed to know who committed the abuse despite having no admission or evidence to support the claim.
In another case that involved twins, Woods concluded the only way the twins’ injuries could have occurred other than abuse was by a motor vehicle collision. Yet, three other physicians who reviewed the case all concluded the same thing, which was the twins suffered from a mineral deficiency that led to weak bones and easy fractures.
In the case that involved Dr. Al-Agba, where Woods made her finding of abuse based solely on photos and never having examined the child, CPS notes indicate Woods reported having 14 years of experience related to child abuse. The agency cited this fact in its decision to classify the marks as inflicted, but 14 years prior to this allegation Woods was still in medical school, not a graduate of medical school, and certainly not a licensed physician.
NBC and KING5 reported Dr. Al-Agba questioned the claims of Woods’ experience and raised concerns about her lack of training with officials at both CPS and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, both of which brushed Dr. Al-Agba’s concerns aside.
A year went by with the Carter family being separated when they finally got to trial where, for four days, Woods testified she believed, “all of Ellie’s medical issues” were the result of medical abuse.
Despite Ellie being born so premature and requiring medical care, Woods continued to claim only Mrs. Carter witnessed Ellie’s seizures, and Ellie had been weaned off her anti-seizure medicine; medical records show otherwise.
Under oath, Woods testified Ellie “wolfed down” a McDonald’s Happy Meal after Mrs. Carter was removed from the hospital.
Upon cross examination, Woods finally admitted she didn’t witness the Happy Meal incident, and she couldn’t provide the name of the hospital staff member who had.
To the contrary, other members of the medical staff testified they did not believe Ellie would have eaten a whole Happy Meal, because she continued to have difficulty eating months after Mrs. Carter was removed from Ellie’s care.
There is still the alleged video surveillance evidence Woods claimed proved Mrs. Carter was abusing Ellie. Woods testified the video showed Mrs. Carter,
“Secretly dumping medication from a syringe after pretending to administer it.”
When lawyers played the video for the doctor who supervised Ellie’s care, along with other witnesses, they all agreed the video showed no such thing.
Also, there were two members of the hospital staff in the room at the time of this alleged incident, neither of which reported any wrongdoing by Mrs. Carter.
The case had overwhelming evidence, but the evidence didn’t support the allegation of abuse made by Woods. It did show overwhelming evidence Woods misled CPS, and the courts, with her false reports, and continued to mislead the courts with her false testimony.
The judge agreed Woods was being dishonest and misleading when she wrote in her 26-page report, provided by NBC and KING5, dismissing the case against the Carters, and “rebuked the doctor who initiated it.”
The judge wrote,
“Most of Woods’ testimony was without factual bases.”
And, Woods’ conclusions were,
“Not plausible” and “speculations at best.”
Restraining Order Against Doctor Needed
It took only two weeks after the judge dismissed the case against the Carters, while admonishing Woods with the report, that the Carters received a knock at their door.
A worker with CPS and a police officer where waiting outside their home.
The worker told the Carters CPS had received two new reports from members of the child abuse intervention team at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, but Ellie hadn’t been seen or treated by anyone at the hospital for more than six months.
This report stated Mrs. Carter was giving Ellie unnecessary oxygen treatments, but medical and billing records prove Ellie hasn’t received oxygen treatments in more than a year.
Because the laws protect the identity of those who make reports to CPS, the worker could not answer the Carters when they inquired about who made this report.
All the worker could say was it came from a pediatrician on the hospital’s child abuse team. Woods is the only physician who matches that description.
The physician who made the report didn’t stop with the oxygen treatments, but also told CPS, “There is a long history of medical child abuse,” and urged CPS to bring Ellie to Mary Bridge for an evaluation.
The Carters refused and showed the authorities the dismissal paperwork from the court which led to the CPS worker and officer leaving without any action.
Mr. Carter then contacted his attorney and decided it was time to take out a restraining order against Woods.
What could happen to Doctor Woods?
After all the Carter family went through when one physician decided to commit a long list of medically unethical and illegal actions, the physician is still covered by total immunity from both civil and criminal liability.
Even if Woods receives reprimand or disciplinary action from Mary Bridge, it doesn’t guarantee she will receive disciplinary action from the Washington Medical Commission, the medical board that governs and gives medical licenses to physicians for the state of Washington.
Unfortunately, because every state has their own licensing board, if a physician has a disciplinary action taken against them, or even has their license revoked completely by the state’s medical board, they can simply move to another state, apply for a new license, and because there is rarely a background check done, a new license is given allowing the physician to start practicing as if nothing happened.
How many families are being devastated by child abuse pediatricians, or any physician for that matter, who act with this type of misconduct, have disciplinary actions or termination from a hospital, but simply move to another state and start practicing with a clean slate?
How many physicians are providing false information on their CV so they can become the director of a team and be given so much credibility by hospital staff, CPS, law enforcement and the courts?
It is clear there needs to be oversight and accountability for child abuse pediatricians and anyone claiming to have “expertise” and “experience” in the field. This sub-specialty has become a runaway train with no one questioning how or when it will stop because it continues to claim it is essential and beneficial for the protection of children.
Separating a child from a loving family is, in itself, considered abuse and causes harm to the child and the family unit.
If you or someone you know has been harmed by a physician, you can file a complaint with your state’s licensing board. To get information for your state, the AAPA has provided a list of licensing boards by state.
“What I fear most is power with impunity.I fear abuse of power, and the power to abuse.”-Isabel Allende
About the Author
Allie Parker is a Family Advocate and mother. She is a surviving victim of a false Child Abuse Pediatrician’s accusation. Read her story here.
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